SIIA Digital Policy Roundup: The FTC Takes Close Look at Native Advertising, Supreme Court Agrees to Review Software Patent Case

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The FTC Takes Close Look at Native Advertising, Additional Guidance Likely
On Dec. 4, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) hosted a full day workshop to examine the blending of advertisements with news, entertainment, and other editorial content in digital media, referred to as “native advertising” or “sponsored content.” The workshop was titled “Blurred Lines,” highlighting the FTC’s concerns about the ability of users to distinguish editorial content from sponsored content. FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez identified the key focus of the workshop to explore whether industry self-regulation and best practices are working, to ensure that users are able to distinguish between paid and editorial content, and the retransmission and aggregation of native advertising and the various ways this is done.

While the daylong discussion ended with an admission by FTC staff that the workshop probably raised more questions than it answered, they also affirmed their commitment to continue reviewing current trends and best practices, with the likely outcome of providing guidelines to help publishers, media companies and marketers avoid deception. FTC staff indicated that we could expect guidance to be similar to the recent guidance on Dot Com Disclosures.

Read the fully summary and analysis of the Workshop on SIIA’s Digital Discourse Blog. SIIA invite’s member feedback to help us inform the Commissions consideration of this important topic in the months ahead.

Supreme Court Agrees to Review Software Patent Case
On Dec. 6th, the Supreme Court agreed to review a lower court decision on an important case pertaining to the patentability of software. The case, Alice Corp. Pty, Ltd. v. CLS Bank International left considerable open questions surrounding whether claims to computer-implemented inventions – including claims to systems and machines, processes, and items of manufacture – are patentable and if so, what is the proper standard for determining such patentability. In short, while many were looking to the Federal Circuit to use this case to clarify some very complex legal issues surrounding the standards for determining the patentability of software, the resulting decision(s) only added to the confusion. Now the Supreme Court has taken up this mantel and hopefully will add some clarity where the Federal Circuit did not.

David David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy. Follow the SIIA public policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPolicy.